I met Zakiya through a group chat.
Besides being attractive, she showed herself to be very bold and intelligent, but we didn’t interact as much there. We were already following each other online, but still didn’t interact. I made my assumptions of her off of aesthetics.
Then one day, I guess through a moment of vulnerability, she shared some parts of her life through her IG stories. My curious nature engaged and I asked her several questions in her DMs. And from there, I knew that I had to get her on WCW.
So after weeks of planning, we finally scheduled a day to meet up and do this.
This was the first interview that was not in a car.
Zakiya had just gotten her studio and invited me to come through and take pictures as well as interview her there…
So… Let’s start at the beginning!
There are many beginnings!
Well then… I remember when we talked on Instagram, you shared about how you didn’t always look like you do right now. Let’s talk about the feelings you were experiencing when you were younger.
Well, a lot of people, when they meet me now, they assume I never had insecurities or body issues. I had an ugly duckling phase. Just like the story from ugly duckling to swan. And sometimes, that state of mind never leave you. When I was younger, I was a late bloomer. I looked more masculine. When girls were growing into their breasts, going bra shopping, I was begging my mother to take me shopping for a training bra. I wanted to fit in as much as possible because I knew I didn’t. A lot of those challenges were things that I faced and stuff that I had to get over. And bullying started in Grade 4. This one kid sat right beside me every single day and terrorized me. He told me how ugly I was and how I would never make friends. And for people saying that kids are mean, they’re not mean. They know the rules that society has given them. They’re just saying them out loud without consideration on how it might affect somebody. He was stating the obvious. You’re not girly. This is what girls look like and what boys look like. He was just stating the obvious.
What was your support system during that time period?
I would say my family, but it was very small. I had to rely on myself mostly. I had a wild imagination. My imagination also kept me. Great storyteller. I did poetry as I grew up and spoken word or visual arts. I stayed grounded in arts. That was my outlet. That was my way of making these worlds coming to life for myself. I was great at math. That was another thing. Me and numbers? Pffft! That was another place where I found a lot of comfort. Figuring things out. Problem solving. That’s what kept me. Family and art.
So you were into arts from a very young age. At what age did you get started with the poetry?
Probably when I was 9. Like Grade 3-4. When I took it more seriously; where I was really in it, was probably Grade 6. At that point, I was part of an art program. It was a selective art program. They directed it to under privilege children. But the whole program was to see how art impacted a child’s life. That’s where I learned spoken word, visual arts, dance, performance, all that kind of stuff. We went there twice a week for the whole school year. And it was just for that Grade 6 year that I did it. And that changed my life. When you meet dedicated creatives…
Yeah! I hear you!
Oooh! It’s another world. It’s always so inspiring. That was the part. When it came to spoken word, it was the way that speaker… I can’t remember their names, but that one creative, it was the flow. The way he can look at you and speak to your soul! I wanted that! It was very hopeful, especially during that point and time because I felt very alone. You had someone who was talking to you but not talking to you. Could share what was going on in your life, but had no conversation at all. That was like crazy for me. I said that I wanted to have that ability to tap into people’s feelings.
That’s impressive! You talked about having an ugly duckling stage. When did you start experiencing dating?
Uh… I dated young (laughter). I think it was a one way type of relationship though. It was not reciprocal. It was more like me holding on to someone who liked me without me knowing whether I liked them. That person saw me. There was no understanding on my side of boundaries or standard of what that person has to bring to the table in the first place. I started when I was in Grade 6, but what is that, right? But if we’re talking about dating more serious, I was probably 16, around Grade 10-11.
Now with regards to your physical growth, how would you describe the change in attitude at that time?
My exterior matched my interior. I was always athletic. I had more of a boyish form to me. I was a late bloomer. I didn’t grown in my woman traits until I was 17. I was mistaken for a boy often. Put me in the right outfit, a boy! All the time! I remember when I was in Grade 6-7 and these older girls came to our school and while I stood with a friend, they said, “Oh you boys are so cute!”
My friend laughed because they thought I was a boy. I stood up for myself by saying that they thought I was cute and not him. In the same stroke of it, I didn’t want to be mistaken for a boy. So when I turned 17, it was day and night. Everyone started staring at me. Guys who usually cracked jokes at my expense would just slide next to me and try to talk to me. I was very suspicious wondering if it was another joke. But later on, more people tried to talk to me and it was strange. So it was more so my external environment reacting differently. I didn’t catch what had changed.
So when you say that your exterior matched your interior, I equate it to cultivating positive reinforcements within in. Now most people I know, myself included, tend to have to deal with these negative voices of doubt. How were you able to quiet these voices?
I think my parents’ teachings kind of helped with that. My mom would often say that what is for you will be yours. My dad was very aware of insecurities and he would try his very best to point out what insecurities are and then what behavior would be attached to show what an insecurity is in fruition. So yeah, I would say that my parents kind of taught that. They would always say that I was beautiful and that kind of came with me. And it made see myself as beautiful and I didn’t see why people didn’t see what I saw. I also relied on music. And they say music is a mantra. You consume it. So I often listen to R&B. Because they were the gateway to emotions. And it really exposed some of the stuff that people were feeling through like heartbreak.
Mary J Blige.
Yeah! Someone who’s sitting at their window seal feeling a pain in their heart and all you wanna do is cry, but I’m going to keep on moving and keep on going even if I’m hurting inside. And that’s how I felt, not wanting to go to school, because I’d see these people. But I had to get on my socks and keep it trucking. I would say that there were multiple influences that kept that voice quiet. My own self, my parents’ teachings, music… They all kind of assisted with that.
You said you were kind of athletic as well from very young.
Yeah! Highly competitive too! (laughter)
(laughter) Would you say your connection to sports was also an outlet for you?
Yeah! It had been an outlet for a lot of the energy. I appreciate the fact that I had sports in my life because it also challenged me besides math which had been a mental challenge, this was a physical challenge. Often times, I was top of my league and I was better than many of the boys in my school. I wanted to be top tier and it didn’t matter who you were.
Did your parents ever encourage that competitive edge of yours?
I don’t think so. Maybe my mom. She used to run track. She was top of her league in Manitoba. And that was also another thing she did. You know how some parents let their kids win? She was not having it at all. She knew that I picked up on running. I used to do cross country and I slowly got into track and field. And I was telling her all the stuff that I learned in school and I would always challenge her calling her old. When came time to run, I never saw her run like that ever. Every year, I made it my mission to beat my mom at running. I didn’t beat my mom until I was 17 years old. And I only found out she was running track when I was 16. But it was a good lesson she was teaching not letting me get the easy go. If I really wanted something, I had to work at it. She held on to that trophy from Grade 6 to Grade 11.
Right now let’s switch gear and let’s name all of your titles, because those I can name right now are, Content Creator, Photographer, Personal Trainer… I will say Performer based on the IG story I seen of you on the bus. What else can you name? Cause I know there’s more.
I would say Model. I did Spoken Word artist. I guess you can also say Visionary, Sister, Daughter, Dancer, Teacher, Coach. I used to coach girls basketball. Mediator. Director, Producer…
You have to recognize all that you do. You are all of these things. If someone offers you a job, you can claim all these experiences.
Now that you say that, I think I have more. Bartender, Event Hostess.
See what I mean? You have all of those. What are some of the current osbtacles you’re facing?
That’s a very hard question. I’d have to say letting go. That’s a definite one.
I feel that one.
And then accepting other people’s fate.
Would you say that you have a problem forgiving yourself as well?
Yeah! Very much so.
Even if you’re not at fault, you put the blame on you?
Listen, if I tell you that I feel that in me… I feel it!
I actually have a friend who led me to that epiphany. He told me that it was ok to apologize to yourself which was a foreign concept to me. It’s ok if you’re here. You’re here. But you don’t have to beat yourself up because you’re here. When he went through that and explained it to me, it was like a whirlwind for me. I was in a moment because of that. And even just the idea of forgiving yourself… Sometimes people don’t realize that. And when you have that personal insight, you tend to look at others and see that they’re missing that too. They’re not forgiving themselves. And that comes back to the point of accepting people’s fate. I can’t choose whatever lane you want to be in. I can help you. I can get you the tools, but I can’t force you to drink. As much as it would hurt me to watch, this is all I can do.
You exude the freedom that I, personally, would liken to the type of freedom Prince, the artist, had.
Prince was the type of guy who could dress wearing a blouse that would be considered effeminate, but men still considered him to be the man. I guess right now, that would be considered as having Big Dick Energy. I don’t know if translates the same for women. I heard Big PumPum Energy or Big Tit Energy. They’ll have to coin a new phrase for it. So I guess from the time you were 17, when did you embrace this particular form of freedom?
I never did and I’m still battling with it.
Wow. I’m speechless…
(laughter) Is this like a Sunde Social reference?
Oh no! This is definitely an Instagram reference. I remember this one time, you were showing your gains on Instagram. Now when I say freedom, I mean, even sexual. And on that particular day, you were showing your gains, but what you did as you showed your gains, you popped your ass cheek. And never erased the post and I said, “Ok, she’s being cheeky!”
Even on Sunde Social when I went to share my upcoming podcast (still being recorded by the way). I asked for 2 volunteer and you jumped in the fray. And it seemed to me that you tapped into the key that says I’m free and I can do whatever the fuck I want. If you have not tapped into this, how did you get to that?
Well, my thing is always synergy. I’m here to work collectively with others. I’m always here to be a helper to someone else. And that’s my train of thinking.
So you went in as a helper. As in, it was a task and you had to complete it.
Yeah! You needed this. That’s what you asked of me, so I played the role of this. So I’m helping in developing the story.
You are incredible. I never heard of that like that. Even with the freedom of actors and actresses. For example, Denzel, who is a Methodic actor, he taps into this level of genius instead of residing in a level of just excellence because you have to take a big leap to get to the level of genius. I feel like you are in a level of genius whenever you put out content.
That’s a first. (laughter)
This is quite interesting. Ok! All right!
I always look at it like, in order for me to do what I do, someone has to say yes. You gave permission. You gave me allowance for me to get in your world.
But do you give yourself permission?
That’s the part.
So you don’t give yourself permission?
No I don’t.
All right, cool. Just so I can get some clarity. We both follow this fitness model, Qimma Russo, and I see that you’ve likened yourself to her. The 2 of you have similar physical traits. I have seen you replicating some of her pictures. Who gave you permission at that point?
I gave myself permission.
I guess those are small instances… You’re still on your journey. This is dope. This is nice. It’s nice. Outside of me making assumptions about you (laughter)…
What are some misconceptions men make about you when they approach you?
So many! That I’m a princess.
That you’re not approachable.
Exactly. The others are that because I naturally exude sexuality, the assumption is that I want it all the time. But the thing is that I’m actually celibate. The irony of it.
(laughter) Too many dudes believe that if she exudes sexuality, she needs to fuck all the time.
Ok… Describe your brand.
My brand at its root will always be about learning, connecting and creating.
So altogether, a creative. I seen you being featured in videos for artists in the city. You’re in fashion shows. And you put out a lot of content. I feel like it’s the beginning of something great. Your greatness is just a few steps away. Let’s talk future. What are your goals?
Almost like Diddy.
Yes! That is the man who is my mentor. I watch him every now and again.
From the way he started, Puffy’s been breaking the norms.
That would be my overall goal. Essentially, I just want to uplift people. Life lessons that I learned are that in order for you to advance, someone would have to say yes. If not, go to the next door until someone says yes. That’s how opportunities work.
I love listening to battle rap and I was listening to a cypher and this dude came on and said if they don’t give me the key to success, I’m picking the lock. So it’s like if you don’t get to hear a yes, I feel like in order to achieve what you want, you would have to give yourself permission first before waiting on anybody.
That’s true, but outside of yourself, someone has to say yes. The idea of self-made is something that I question. You can’t be self-made because your ancestors brought everything for you to be you. You’re always on the shoulders of somebody and none of us created themselves. But that’s still in questioning. And the other rule is the golden rule. Treat others how you want to be treated.
That’s dope! Ok, last question… Imagine a young woman who has similar beginnings to you and the same obstacles you’re facing. What advice would you give her?
Your mind is your most valuable currency. And everything that you think can be made as long as you use your hands within.